Mapping for Preparedness in Nepal

Today I bring you a guest post about a great project in Nepal. It comes courtesy of Nama Budhathoki, who is working to help ensure there is better data for disaster planning using OSM in Nepal.

Nepal is a beautiful country with eight out of ten highest mountains in the world including Mt Everest. Its capital city has eight UNESCO-listed heritage sites. Nepal is a popular destination for tourists. Recently, several reports have warned that this spectacular nation is at high risks from earthquakes. According to Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium Secretariat, a mega-earthquake—which could occur at any time—is estimated to kill more than 100,000 in the Kathmandu Valley alone, injuring another 300,000 and displacing up to 1 million.

While preparing for an earthquake is a multifaceted task, the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and similar experiences elsewhere have taught a lesson: that readily accessible online maps greatly help both for preparedness and rescue works. Unfortunately, existing sources of map data in Nepal seem to be fragmented, difficult to access, and often outdated. Realizing this, an increasing number of digital volunteers in Nepal have been mapping in OpenStreetMap (OSM) over the last couple of years.

OSM Nepal has gained momentum with The World Bank's support under its Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI). Currently, the OSM Nepal community is collecting major POIs and urban structural data including building footprints in the Kathmandu Valley. This data can be (re)used in a variety of applications, disasters being just one of them.

Please follow the progress on our website and keep an eye out for the announcement of new and improved high resolution imagery to enhance international assistance to map the Kathmandu Valley.